U.S. Park Lodging is a private service that can help you find accommodation in some of our country's most popular tourist destinations.  Check here often for updates and specials on lodging and activity opportunities in and around America's National Parks!

Adventures in Zion National Park

Monday, June 6th, 2016

zion narrows fallZion National Park, located in Southwestern Utah, is a beautiful canyon country oasis. The land is filled with Navajo Sandstone cliffs, narrow canyons, graceful waterfalls and an abundance of diverse plants and wildlife. A trip to the park will surely result in a chance to see species like the endangered California condor and the threatened Mexican owl. Zion National Park is a great place for those who seek adventurous, outdoor fun! The park has numerous locations great for canyoneering, climbing, and hiking!

Zion National Park – Part of the “Grand Circle”
One of the best reasons to stay at Zion National Park is its proximity to other great American landmarks. Zion National Park is part of the Southwest’s “Grand Circle,” an area home to an impressive number of recreational areas, monuments, historical sites, and national parks. Zion National Park is located near Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon, Cedar Breaks National Monument, and Pipe Spring National Monument. On this trip, you can hit over 5 historic locations all in one go!

Zion National Park’s Kolob Canyons
The Kolob Canyons, located in the Northwestern section of Zion National Park, feature towering scarlet walls and bright, colorful cliffs. Part of the Colorado Plateau, this unique and awe-inspiring section of the park has a well-protected primitive environment. Visitors must first stop at the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center where wilderness permits can be attained. You can then view the canyons on a 5-mile scenic drive or explore the Kolob’s on foot.

The Kolob Canyons are a truly unique area of Zion National Park, filled with soaring peaks of Navajo sandstone, canyon streams and cascading falls, and over twenty miles worth of hiking trails. New experiences and stunning scenery await you around every corner in this majestic land that has never lost its primitive spirit.

Canyoneering Adventures
Zion National Park has become known as one of the country’s best locations for canyoneering. Canyoneering is an exciting way to explore the park’s many canyons. A combination of route locating, swimming, hiking and rappelling, canyoneering is quite the technical feat. There are many great routes for beginners, like the Subway or Orderville Canyon. The Narrows offers a more challenging course for experienced adventurers. All technical canyoneering trips require a permit.

Virgin River, Zion Narrows photo by sufw on Flickr

Virgin River, Zion Narrows photo by sufw on Flickr

The Narrows in Zion National Park
The Narrows is one of the most popular hikes at Zion National Park as well as the Colorado Plateau, and for good reason! The trail runs through a deep gorge, beneath thousand-foot-tall walls and involves wading through the waters of the Virginia River. There is a 1-mile long, wheelchair accessible Riverside Walk, but hikers will have to prepare to get wet! The water can be anywhere from knee deep, to waist deep, and some pools can even reach chest-level height. The water is coldest and highest during winter and early spring, so the best time to hike The Narrows is during late spring and summer.

However, this season is when the park can get stormy, leaving The Narrows open to flash floods. When it storms, excess water floods into the canyon rapidly since much of the nearby areas consist of bare rock with no ability to absorb water. During a flash flood, the Narrows can be filled with water in less than a minute. It’s important to always check the weather forecast and flash flood potential before you begin your journey.

The Subway in Zion Backcountry
The Subway, a canyon near the Left Fork of North Creek, is the most popular hiking and canyoneering route through Zion’s backcountry. The route begins at Wildcat Canyon Trailhead and leads to a spectacular pool of water nestled beneath brushed crimson stone. The trail requires some swimming and a few short rappels. Due to its popularity, reservations must be made via a lottery system several months in advance.

Climbing the walls of Zion
Adventure-seekers have found the right place in Zion National Park. In addition to its renowned canyoneering and tremendous hikes, Zion is also a marvelous place for climbers to scale its 2,000-foot sandstone walls. Imagine ascending a towering wall of crimson stone, looking out over a sea of lush greenery, scanning all the way to the horizon line where the deep blue sky melts into the earth. However, these routes are not recommended for beginners. It’s recommended that new climbers set up a training session with a local provider.

A Birdwatchers Paradise
Zion National Park is a birdwatcher’s paradise! Rock climbers, canyon explorers and those with high-powered binoculars or telescopes will get a rare chance to see the secret life of a bird nestled up high in the Southwestern cliffs. Zion National Park is a sanctuary for birds like the bald eagle, California condor, the Mexican spotted owl and the Peregrine falcon. There are over 280 different species of birds that find shelter and protection at Zion. When you visit this national park, you have an opportunity to see these birds thriving beneath the golden sun and soaring through the azure sky.

Zion National Park is a dream come true for birdwatchers, nature lovers, and outdoor adventurists! The park’s endless canyons and trails offer the opportunity to explore everything from the water-filled trails of the Narrows to climbs that take you high up on ancient sandstone walls. Come to Zion for beautiful views, exhilarating climbs and an abundance of plant and animal life.

Zion National Park: Zion Narrows

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Zion National Park is an iconic national park most noted by the gorgeous Zion Narrows where the Virgin River has carved a beautiful canyon running the length of the park. The Virgin River is navigated by wading through the water due to very few river banks and a smooth, walkable river bottom. Some places in the Zion Narrows are only about six feet wide. The sides of the canyon are 1,500 foot cliffs rising above the river. Trekking the Zion Narrows is, by far, the most popular activity for visitors of Zion National Park. The Zion Narrows can be tranquil as well as dangerous. It is important to take note of the weather forecasts in the surrounding region before voyaging into the Zion Narrows. Flash floods are common during sudden rains that can leave people in immediate danger.

An interesting example of this Zion Narrows danger goes back to 1965 when 48 people went missing in the Virgin River canyon after unexpected rains. Weather predictions have gotten better over the years, but on this particular day, September 6, 1965, the weather forecasters did not expect rain. Around dawn that morning, there was a downpour in the area. Several groups had begun trekking the Zion Narrows from outside of the park a day or two prior to the rains. As it was, the Zion National Park employees had closed down access of the Zion Narrows from within the park, but had no access to those who entered from outside of Zion National Park.

Zion National Park Narrows

Zion National Park Narrows photo by markbyzewski on Flickr

The waters of a flash flood (especially in the desert where the water doesn’t absorb into the earth) can travel pretty fast to reach the lowest ground. By the time the waters rumbled over the desert floor and into the park, the various groups were well into the Virgin River canyon. Suddenly water that was at their ankles swelled to well above their heads. The rampaging waters did not begin to recede until well after dark that night. In total, 48 people were reported missing when they did not return as expected.

As the waters rose in the narrow canyon, survival became the most important thing. People clung to trees and ledges or anywhere they could hold on. Several crouched behind a waterfall trying to avoid the surging waters. They clung to each other not knowing their fates. The flood began on a Sunday and there was no word of the missing. On Monday, the missing began trickling home, much to the excitement of the nation who were waiting and praying for their return. By Tuesday, all 48 missing people made it out alive! One man sustained a leg injury from a log pummeling into him as the waters were at their peak.

This story was a triumphant one as these 48 adventurers all survived the dangers of a flash flood in the Zion Narrows. Many have not been so fortunate. This story is not meant to discourage anyone from trekking the gorgeous Zion Narrows, but to caution them of the dangers of even a little rain storm. The Zion Narrows are a spectacle to see. They are an icon of the national parks in general and specifically the superstar of Zion National Park. When you visit Zion, check the weather and take a trek into the gorgeous Zion Narrows. If you feel a little unsure, hire a guide to lead you. The Virgin River’s Zion Narrows are like nothing you have seen before or will see again. Come to Zion and trek the Zion Narrows! You will not regret it. Give US Park Lodging a call to book your Zion National Park accommodations.

The Grand Circle

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

The Grand Circle is a term used to describe the ultimate road trip through the American southwest by way of 20 scenic byways that neatly tie 11 national parks and 16 national monuments together in a loop. US Park Lodging makes reservations for the national parks in this rugged and colorful country. The Grand Circle is a trip that will never be forgotten. It takes planning, so allow the professionals at US Park Lodging to assist you in reserving this trip of a lifetime once you have determined your route. Here is an example of an itinerary for your Grand Circle vacation. This blog can serve as a starting point for your research so when you call US Park Lodging, you will have a better idea of the route and stops you want to include.The most strategic places to enter the Grand Circle for your adventure of a lifetime is from either Las Vegas or Salt Lake City. Since this is a loop, you can hop on the Grand Circle loop from any point and return to the starting point for the same experience on the Grand Circle.

Zion National Park photo by StuSeeger on Flickr

A good place to begin your Grand Circle adventure is in Zion National Park. It is recommended to spend two or three nights in Zion National Park on your Grand Circle tour. Stay at the Zion Lodge for an accommodating and authentic park experience. During your stay at Zion National Park, you will definitely want to spend a day trekking through the Virgin River Narrows, which is the main artery of the park. There are several easy to moderate hikes at Zion National Park. Another great way to see a different perspective of the park is to take a hot air balloon tour.

After you explore Zion, head 89 miles over to Bryce Canyon National Park for your second stop on your Grand Circle adventure. If you head to Bryce Canyon National Park in the morning, you can drive to Rainbow Point for a 37 mile round trip and catch all the viewpoints on the return trip.

Queen's Garden, Bryce Canyon National Park

Queen’s Garden, Bryce Canyon National Park photo by Alaskan Dude on Flickr

A good place to stay for the night is the Bryce Canyon Lodge. In the morning, take a half day guided hike or horseback tour to get up close and personal with the curious hoodoos in the amphitheater.

After your second day in Bryce Canyon National Park, you might think your Grand Circle loop has been fulfilling enough. Just wait, there is much more to enjoy on this adventure. A good option for lodging after day two at Bryce Canyon National Park is to head 15 miles down the road to Kanab, UT which is the gateway to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Stay a comfortable night at the Vermillion Vacation Homes and check out Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in the first half of the day.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park photo by james.gordon6108 on Flickr

Once you get a taste of what Grand Staircase Escalante is all about, hit the road to Moab, UT for about 289 miles. (Some people might choose to include Capitol Reef National Park in their itinerary which would break up the 289 mile drive into two sections and also would avoid the interstate.) A fun place to stay in Moab is The Gonzo Inn, which has unique accommodations close to both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park for your ultimate convenience. You will get there just in time to enjoy a yummy dinner and settle down for the night to start the next leg of your Grand Circle adventure tour. Depending on your Grand Circle goals, you may want to stay in Moab for as many as five nights. This area has a lot to offer and while you are here, you may as well immerse yourself.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park photo by NPCA Photos on Flickr

Moab is your Grand Circle hub for Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. In Arches National Park, make sure you drive all of the paved roads and stop at the viewpoints along the way. This is yet another opportunity for a van tour or a hot air balloon tour due to the crowded parking lots. Check out the Devil’s Garden hike, the Fiery Furnace hike and make sure to go see Delicate Arch. For an unpaved adventure, if you have the right kind of vehicle, head through the Salt Valley to Klondike Bluffs. The road back to the center of Arches National Park is only recommended for southerly travel due to sand and hills. You will want to spend time in Canyonlands National Park as well on your Grand Circle vacation. A great place to check out is the Island in the Sky for easy access and some fun little hikes. During your Moab stay, one of your nights should include a late night stargazing tour at either Arches or Canyonlands National Parks. The milky way is calling your name.

Petroglyph Point

Petroglyph Point, Mesa Verde National Park photo by Alaskan Dude on Flickr

After you have had your fill of the Moab area, continue your Grand Circle adventure and head 131 miles to Mancos, CO to visit Mesa Verde National Park for a couple of days. Definitely stay in the park at the Far View Lodge. From the Far View Lodge, you will have central access to the main highlights of Mesa Verde National Park. You will want to venture across Wetherill Mesa to take the Long House tour and the self guided Step House tour. On your second day explore the Chapin Mesa and sign up for the Balcony House and the Cliff Palace tours. While you wait for one of your tours to start, perhaps enjoy the self-guided Spruce Tree House tour, the Chapin Mesa Museum or the archaeological village sites nearby.

At this point in the Grand Circle journey, you will want to ask yourself whether or not you want to visit Canyon De Chelly National Monument. If you do, head south from Mesa Verde National Park 164 miles. If you skip Canyon De Chelly, you will save 116 miles from the Grand Circle loop and you will drive past the Mexican Hat formation and the Valley of the Gods. If you do choose to head to Canyon de Chelly, stay at the Thunderbird Lodge. One full day here will probably be enough just checking out the scenic drives and taking a self guided hike or two. Next stop on your Grand Circle tour is Monument Valley 98 miles northwest.

Monument Valley

Monument Valley photo by Moyan_Brenn on Flickr

Monument Valley is a gorgeous valley of buttes, pinnacles and volcanic cores left behind from the winds and rains of time. Monument Valley is within the Navajo Nation Reservation, so your national park passport will not apply on this part of your Grand Circle adventure. You will want to stay at The View Hotel. This hotel is inside Monument Valley with stunning views of the park highlights. This is another great place to learn about the Ancestral Puebloans who settled in the area a few thousand years ago. Take some time to enjoy the local artisan booths as well.

From Monument Valley, the next stop in the Grand Circle is Lake Powell. Depending on your goals, this could be a nice place to spend a day or three. A good lodging choice for Lake Powell is the Defiance House Lodge. If you want to stay awhile, a houseboat rental is a great way to spend your time. Rainbow Bridge is a must-see destination here as well as Antelope Canyon. Antelope Canyon is considered to be one of the most beautiful slot canyons in the world, so definitely make this a priority. Another way to spend a day is on a Colorado River float trip. Check out Horseshoe Bend either from the river or the lookout. Lake Powell area is much more than a vast reservoir, there are several diverse things to enjoy here as well as water play.

Yavapai Point Grand Canyon National Park

Yavapai Point Grand Canyon National Park photo by Moyan_Brenn on Flickr

In the Grand Circle loop, the Grand Canyon is the final stop before returning to the start of the Grand Circle loop. Grand Canyon National Park has two distinct and separate areas you can explore, the North Rim and the South Rim. You might want to choose one or the other, or if you have time, both. The South Rim is the populated area and the North Rim enjoys more peace and quiet. On this itinerary, I suggest visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon because it is convenient, cooler due to higher elevations, less crowded and has what many believe to be better hikes.

If you visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, the lodge to stay in is the Grand Canyon Lodge. The downfall of the North Rim is that it is closed during the winter and the road can close for inclement weather. Check ahead for closures if you are planning to travel to the gorgeous North Rim. If you are combining North and South Rims or perhaps you want to be where all the action is at the South Rim, the sweeping depths and awe-inspiring vistas of Grand Canyon National Park will not disappoint you. Visiting the South Rim of the Grand Canyon will add quite a few more miles to your Grand Circle trip. If you go all the way to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, you should stay at the famous El Tovar Hotel. The El Tovar Hotel was one of the pioneering national park hotels of the style made famous by the national park service.

The Grand Circle is a vacation that will go down in your history books, no matter what your travel preferences are. No other area compares to the Grand Circle with it’s many parks and sights. This itinerary is a good basis of a typical Grand Circle trip. You can enter this itinerary loop at any point and you can travel clockwise or counter-clockwise on the circle.  After you have sketched out your route and plan, give the professionals at US Park Lodging a call to book all of your National Park lodging on your Grand Circle adventure. Remember to gas up often, watch for little critters on the road and expect the driving times to be longer than they would normally be on the interstate. Most of all, have a great time in the Grand Circle.  The mysterious and colorful southwest landscape is waiting for your arrival.

Lodging in Zion National Park

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Zion National Park is a magical place of wonder. The Virgin River gently and smoothly carves caverns and canyons through the red rock sandstone and provides a lush riparian zone along it’s waters. Watch a bald eagle swoop down for a tasty flannelmouth sucker lazily swimming along.

Virgin River, Zion Narrows photo by sufw on Flickr

Listen to the canyon tree frog’s evening chirp as you look for the source. The towering hoodoos show the historic relationship between the river and the earth leaving the resemblance of a cathedral behind. This is Zion National Park and you definitely want to come here.

As you figure out your Zion National Park lodging arrangements, there are a couple things to know about Zion National Park lodging. The lodging in Zion National Park differs in ways that can put the cherry on top of your ideals for your Zion vacation. If you like to be near the action, the Zion Lodge would be best for you. If solitude is your preference, then you will love the Zion Mountain Ranch. Regardless of the Zion National Park lodging you choose, the gorgeous Zion National Park will be there just the same. The only thing that your lodging in Zion National Park will change is your downtime environment.


The Zion Lodge is located just inside the southern entrance into Zion National Park. Guests at the Zion Lodge will enjoy the community style lodging in the midst of 75 rooms on two floors and 40 neighboring historic cabins. This Zion National Park lodging offers immediate access to the hub of the park with it’s trail heads, museums and shuttles. The Zion Lodge has an on-site restaurant and a cafe as well. Guests can walk to the trail head to the Emerald Pools or explore along the river. The Zion Lodge is a great choice for lodging in Zion National Park for those who love to be in the center of park activity.

Zion Canyon

Zion National Park Canyon photo by Diliff on Flickr

The Zion Mountain Ranch rests on 300 acres just steps from the east entrance into Zion National Park. The Zion Mountain Ranch offers private cabins with plenty of amenities. The grounds provide for solitude and the opportunity for exploration. Guests enjoy views of the buffalo meadow and horseback rides on-site. The Zion Mountain Ranch boasts a great restaurant with a menu to satisfy your whole group. Zion National Park’s east side has a slightly cooler climate which makes a big difference on hot summer days. Guests venturing into Zion National Park have only to travel the gorgeous Zion-Mount Carmel Highway to arrive at Zion’s epicenter of activity.

Both of these fantastic choices for lodging in Zion National Park offer comforts and easy access to the park. Whether you are looking for Zion National Park lodging among the action or off the beaten path, these Zion properties can and will accommodate you. Zion National Park is a breathtakingly beautiful place that you will cherish for years to come. Your choice of lodging in Zion National Park can add an entire layer of comfort and satisfaction as well. Call the professionals at US Park Lodging to make your Zion National Park reservations today.